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Dealing With the Slowdown in the US Economy - A Perspective

August 4, 2008
by Tim Tolan
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With the ongoing slump in the housing market and the steady rise in gasoline and food prices constantly thrown in our faces, it’s no wonder that Americans fear the worst for our economy. You can’t turn on the news or pick up a newspaper without hearing the media’s increasingly pessimistic reminder on how bad things are.

But is the economy really all that bad?

Sure, things could be better and being in a down economy is not something to be taken lightly. But… is it fair to compare our current situation to “The Great Depression”? Is it really necessary? Hey, I’m in the search business and certainly do not profess to be an economist – that would be a huge stretchJ

And yes, we too have felt a bit of a slowdown from our clients. Some candidates are choosing to hunker down for a while and ride out the storm instead of evaluating a new opportunity. But, in the end, it’s not all that bad!
Really!!!

The facts convey a different message all together. Compared to the last two recessions, unemployment rate is still fairly low and the GDP is still on the rise. And yes…. companies are still hiring talent! Albeit, not at the same levels – companies are still hiring! Let’s not push the red panic button - just yet.

I think it’s safe to say that the doom and gloom view of our economy is fueled by the media and all one has to do is turn on the evening news (if you can stand it) and you will hear the same data points replayed over and over. It’s like watching Sports Center or CNN Headline News – except it’s not re-runs of the news every 30 minutes. It’s worse! It’s every 30 minutes every DAY!!
Day after day after day….Same story!
C’mon – it’s not smart to put your head in the sand and think that things have not changed. I get that. But...we have to adapt to the current environment and find ways to keep moving forward. It is (way) too premature to throw in the towel - not to mention how this constant attitude of gloom and doom wears us down mentally and emotionally. Standing around the water cooler and talking about our country’s daily woes is probably not the best way to spend our time.
 
You know the game…Stay focused, keep your head down and… this too shall pass. It always does. We all work in healthcare – one of the largest sectors of our economy and it’s still growing! That is a very good thing for all of us.

Wait… I have a phone call from a new healthcare IT client looking for a CIO.

Gotta run!

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Comments

tim tell me a little more about your role. I could almost see the job you do -- getting the right people in the right jobs -- morphing into the role of personal coach and even psychologist. do you find that your clients need more from you that just learning about job openings? do you find that you take on a parent-type role where you continually turn questions back to them, so you're not the one making the decision?

Great question! My clients count on me to do much more than finding human capital. I'm not sure the role is a "parent-type" role as much as it is being a good listener and understanding their business issues and problems. We are sort of in the middle of the decision on both sides of the aisle — the client and the candidate trying to understand what each stakeholder needs to bring to the table to finalize a search assignment to closure. In the end, it is up to both the client and the candidate to close the search. It has to be "win-win".
We actually provide coaching and consulting to prospective candidates about the new role, how it might impact their career path and how they either "fit" or "don't fit" into the culture of the client company. If their resume has a blemish or they omit relevant information — we tell it like it is in an effort to help them better represent their skill-set to the market. On the other hand we also provide feedback to clients about how their company is perceived in the market in general - and by specific candidates they we present. Sometimes they don't even see it the way "outsiders" perceive their company and our feedback is invaluable. We are not transactional in our approach AT ALL. Our clients do business with us because of our consultative approach to doing business. We care much more about the items noted above than many of our competitors.
The way I see it is simple. In the healthcare IT market your name and reputation mean everything! We don't take anything for granted regarding a client relationship.

Question: the reason most people don't seek out new opportunities, or shy away from those presented to them, is fear fear that they will trade stability for instability, that the move will result in them getting laid off in a year, or they will hate the new situation. do you have clients that let fear get the better of them, where it freezes them into inaction? or, more importantly, how do you evaluate a new opportunity, including the institutional culture and management, in order to see if it's a good fit?

Fear is a key driver and during a down economic environment human nature is to "cling on" to stability and the things we know. Candidates are much more cautious and risk adverse now than they were 6-8 months ago. And yes - they are somewhat "frozen" and not as willing to "step out" due to the unknown. On your question regarding how to evaluate a new oppty before "jumping ship" - we encourage candidates to speak to multiple employees of the prospective company and ask engaging questions about the realities of working there with a key focus on the culture. We usually look at culture as 50% or more of the fit with any given candidate evaluating a new company. Great post!

Tim Tolan

Senior Partner, Sanford Rose Associates Healthcare IT Practice

@@TimTolan

http://sanfordrose.net/thetolangroup/

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